Health and Family Services Cabinet
AmeriCorps providing service opportunities for Kentuckians with disabilities
Since 1994, AmeriCorps service has been a stepping stone to fulfilling careers for thousands of Kentuckians. Most AmeriCorps assignments offer members the chance to develop marketable skills, earn tuition assistance or pay off student loans.
In an effort to extend service opportunities to more Kentuckians, the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services recently beefed up its AmeriCorps recruiting efforts, targeting Kentuckians with disabilities who may not have considered AmeriCorps service as a career development option.
Lanny Taulbee, disabilities coordinator for KCCVS, dedicates his time to recruiting and helping develop support mechanisms for people with disabilities who want to serve in AmeriCorps state programs.
Taulbee was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 7. By the time he was 10, he could no longer walk. Taulbee attended high school with the help of a wheelchair and, after high school, he underwent a series of surgeries that enabled him to walk with the use of crutches.
As the KCCVS Disabilities Coordinator, Taulbee recruits AmeriCorps members with disabilities and works to ensure they receive assistance, referrals to services and other forms of support to help them perform their service duties.
“People with disabilities often find it difficult to overcome employment barriers, such as work experience – a very important qualification employers look for when considering job applicants,” Taulbee said. “AmeriCorps members with disabilities can establish a one- or two-year service history to help build resumes and employment credentials.”
Thousands of people with disabilities in the United States serve with AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and other programs of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. The corporation provides funding to KCCVS, a portion of which is used to develop outreach, placement, specialized training and reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities who wish to serve in state programs.
Mike Fields, the Cabinet’s undersecretary for Human Services, said recruiting currently is under way for the 2006-07 AmeriCorps service year. “Positions are available for 172 AmeriCorps members in nine programs across Kentucky,” Fields said. “Service assignments range from tutoring and mentoring at-risk children and youth to housing construction and counseling, helping aging Kentuckians with chores and other domestic tasks so they can remain in their homes to training local disaster and emergency response volunteers.”
While some positions will be filled with second-year members, other slots are open to new recruits. “My goal is to fill as many positions as possible with qualified people with disabilities,” Taulbee said. “Kentucky is working hard to find ways for people with disabilities, who otherwise may not have the opportunity, to share in the spirit of volunteerism and service.”
For more information about KCCVS and service opportunities, including opportunities for people with disabilities, contact KCCVS by calling (800) 239-7404 or on the Web at www.volunteerKY.ky.gov.